Bamboo as a renewable source of energy

Tuesday, 23 April 2019
Dr. Parth Shah
Energy Next

 Times are changing. And with changing times, resources, be it of any kind, have witnessed change too. In order to keep pace with accelerating growth and development, a need for newer resources have become vital. This applies to energy too. The quest to develop renewable energy sources to their potential has seen many a research and study. One such unused potential lies in bamboo as a renewable source of energy. Why bamboo?! Well, simply because it is easy to grow, and grows fast, but, firstly, most of us need to understand even what bamboo, actually, is.  Is it a tree? Is it a shrub? Is it a weed? Is it just plain grass? Did you guess the answer? Bamboo is a grass. You never thought it would be?! Well, most of us would not. With over thousand documented uses including as a building material, as medicine and even fibre, Bamboo is one of the most useful plants available to mankind. Bamboo also boasts of properties that make it invaluable to us like the fact that different parts of the plant have different uses and are obtained at different stages of its growth thus rendering the plant useful during its entire life span; besides this, the plant improves the environment in many significant ways including acting as an atmospheric and soil purifier. And as a source of energy? Studies suggest that bamboo burns well, almost as well as wood. While the potential of bamboo has been highlighted in past, and there has been progress made at a policy level, officials and departments dealing with the challenge of highlighting the use of this valuable resource still lack clear direction. It is important to device and apply solutions for challenges specific to this issue. An important suggestion is also the creation of a Bamboo Board on the lines of Tea/Coffee Board. For bamboo cultivation on private land, a declaration of Bamboo as a horticulture crop by the Government, abolishment of Bamboo trade & transit rules for farm-grown Bamboo, inclusion of bamboo as a plantation crop wherever separate laws exist, and public investment in relevant areas are some proposed solutions. Decades of negligence means little has been done to bring about production patterns and practices that are sustainable and market friendly since state monopoly control has been the norm. The State has to play a facilitating role by roping in design institutes, financial institutions and NGOs in order to fill in the informational deficiencies. Most importantly, the North-East has to be converted into a Special Bamboo Zone. With a determined focus on implementation of customized solutions for long-standing challenges the Bamboo cultivation domain faces, this useful plant can find itself as a precious resource for energy generation.